Hell House Maryland: How an Abandoned Seminary Became a Demonic Attraction

Founded as a seminary in the 19th century, Saint Mary’s College was abandoned to decay a century later due to a decline in enrollment. As the eerie “Hell House” of Maryland, St. Mary’s is now known for being the meeting spot for Satan worshippers to carry out sinister rites. What dark secrets is the deserted institution concealing, and what distinguishes fact from fiction?

The Redemptorist Order, a Catholic missionary group, founded St. Mary’s in 1868 atop a cliff overlooking the Patapsco River in Ilchester, Maryland. The opulent seminary was formerly a tavern. Originally owned by the Ellicott brothers, who had the same name as the surrounding city, the location was a hotel and tavern. As the school grew into the imposing historic building that is now in ruins, the students moved into the former tavern and hotel constructions.

The cross above St. Mary's altar, now known as the 'hell house of maryland'

The metal cross above the altar of St. Mary’s. 

The seminary was built in the manner of an Italian Renaissance and had bedrooms, classrooms, a lovely church, and beautifully landscaped gardens with 14 Stations of the Cross laid out in meandering pavilions. There were as many relics in the library as there were books: ancient coins, sacred documents, and even fossils were kept there.

During the first few decades of the college’s existence, enrollment was tiny, but it peaked at about 150 students. Prior to being ordained as priests, students would attend the institution for six years. At St. Mary’s College, nuns received instruction as well. The Our Lady of Perpetual Help congregation was founded in 1893 with the goal of aiding the local impoverished. It is active to this day.

The downfall of Saint Mary’s
The Repemtorists moved to a new headquarters in 1972 after leaving St. Mary’s. The Patapsco Valley State Park received a sizable portion of the seminary’s property. An attempt to convert the main building into upmarket apartments was unsuccessful in the early 1980s. Another attempt to build a nonreligious monastery and spiritual commune was made in 1983, but it was unsuccessful as well.

The arch of the old 'hell house altar' in the chapel of St Mary's

The ‘Hell House Altar’ in Maryland.

The historically significant structure eventually fell into decay. The old building was set on fire by arsonists on Halloween night in 1996, leaving only one significant monument standing. What’s left has graffiti covering its walls these days. There is a particular gazebo that is the subject of local folklore about eerie gatherings and spirits. The dilapidated building is known as the “Hell House Altar” because of the metal cross that protrudes against the eerie backdrop of ruins and forest.

Maryland Legends Regarding the Hell House
Stories of ghosts, animal sacrifices, and demonic groups have been told to the locals. In one legend, the school’s female students were massacred by a mad priest, while in another, a priest is accused of raping multiple nuns. After the priest was able to flee, the nuns were taken over by evil spirits, who subsequently killed every student in the college. According to a different account of events, the nuns were discovered hanging and a pentagram made of their own blood had been carved on the ground underneath them.

The cross and shelter of the old St Mary's altar covered in grafitti

The dome above the “Hell House Altar.”

As previously noted, the school was constructed on property that was once a hotel and tavern, which may also be a factor in the local hauntings.

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